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Messages - Maintain FL 350

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Where should I go next fall? / Re: soft factors
« on: June 19, 2013, 06:55:11 PM »
No, law schools won't really care that you work for the county or were an Eagle Scout. It won't hurt you, but it probably won't help you either. (Please keep in mind I'm not disparaging your accomplishments in any way, I'm just trying to answer your question honestly).

They will care if you were the executive director of a human rights organization, or if you spent years feeding starving kids and providing medical care in sub-Saharan Africa, you ran a legal aid clinic, or work full time at a homeless shelter. Most people have at least some public interest volunteer work under their belts, and will try to make it sound as glorious as possible on law school apps. The ones who have dedicated their lives to public interest work, however, will stand out.

Remember though, even outstanding soft factors are viewed as complimentary to GPA/LSAT, not in lieu of GPA/LSAT. If you have low numbers all the soft factors in the world aren't going to help. Once you get an LSAT score and LSAC GPA you will be able to get a very good idea as to your chances at any given school. Law school admissions is a numbers game, first and foremost. Everything else will be considered secondarily. 

Where should I go next fall? / Re: soft factors
« on: June 19, 2013, 04:26:06 PM »
What are soft factors that law schools REALLY look at and how does one effectively bring attention to those in the admissions process?  Do some soft factors make a difference more than other?

The biggest ones are probably URM status, followed by truly impressive public service/non-profit work. When I say "truly impressive" I mean something substantially more than donating a few hours at a soup kitchen or doing a little tutoring for underprivileged kids. The fact is, lots of people have some minimal public service experience and everyone tries to play it up on their applications. The law schools know this, and weight it accordingly.

On the other hand, genuine and unique experiences can make a difference. For example, I know someone who was not URM but came from very humble origins. She was the first in her family to go to college and spent ten years working in non-profit/public interest jobs. Without going into details, let me just say that her resume/life story were remarkable and probably blew away 99.9% of the other applicants by a mile. In addition she had a high GPA/high LSAT. I think the admissions committees saw that she was the real deal, and she was accepted to law schools that would have been out of reach based on her numbers alone.

My point is that her soft factors were not just good, they were great. I think you almost have to be at that level in order for it to make any real difference. The routine soft factors that most people try to play up (club membership, study abroad, generic proclamations about being "dedicated to justice", etc.) won't make much difference. 

Also, if i dont get into where i want to, if i go back and get an MA with good GPA will that raise my chances the next time around?

Not really. You'd actually be better off retaking the LSAT and shooting for a higher score rather than spending money on an M.A. Graduate GPA is not factored into your LSAC GPA, and the degree itself will likely not carry much weight. Lots of people apply to law school with grad degrees, it's just not that unique.

In summation, in order for soft factors to play any significant role in admission they need to be very impressive. Otherwise, your GPA/LSAT will dominate the process.

Where should I go next fall? / Re: Lincoln Law School in San Jose
« on: June 19, 2013, 03:00:57 AM »
I don't have any personal experience with LLS, but the CBE schools can be the right choice for the right person. To a large extent it really depends onwhat you want to do with your degree. Big firms and federal agencies won't be interested, but plenty of CBE grads do just fine at small firms, as solo practitioners, and with local government agencies. Be realistic about your options, and if you decide on LLS get as much as practical experience as possible via internships, etc.

On another note, i was also curious about low tier vs out of state law school.  Will i have more success finding a job with a degree from University of Hawaii or UNLV in California or a local but lwoer tier school in California like Golden Gate or USF?

You will not have more luck finding a job with an out of state degree from a non-elite school. Once you get away from the prestigious schools like Harvard and Yale, you are better off going to school where you plan to live. You'll have a much better shot at making connections and gaining experience locally. Schools like Hawaii and UNLV are fine schools, but they're not the kind of schools that will allow you to rely on your pedigree to get a job. Honestly, most employers simply don't care if your school is ranked at #71 or #101. Employers that are willing to hire from Hawaii or UNLV are going to be willing to hire USF and GGU. If your goal is to work in work Bay Area, either GGU or USF would be a better choice.

Where should I go next fall? / Re: Brooklyn Law vs. Fordham Law
« on: June 18, 2013, 04:06:32 PM »
Right, all very true and fair points. I guess my biggest concern, aside from doing well, resides with job prospects after graduation. Specifically, going to a school with "worse" job prospects and with a scholarship versus going to a school with "better" job prospects and having to pay full price.

Your concerns are focused in the right area, and that's good. You've got to do a cost/benefit analysis between the two offers. Is the slight reputational advantage from Fordham going to outweigh the substantial debt you'll accrue? Well, only if you can be reasonably assured that a Fordham degree will necessarily translate into a higher paying job.

I don't live in the NYC area, so I don't have any personal experience with either school. However, my guess is that most Fordham students who graduate with average grades and average experience are in about the same boat as most Brooklyn grads. If you were trying to decide between Brooklyn and Columbia or NYU, it would be a different story. Your opportunities graduating from an elite school might very well justify the additional cost. As between Fordham and Brooklyn, however, I'm not so sure.

If you accrue a $2000 per month loan payment in order to attend Fordham, that means you'd have to land a job paying at least $24,000 (more if you consider taxes) per annum more than any job you'd get coming out of Brooklyn. Does the average Fordham grad start off making $24,000 more than the average Brooklyn grad? I'd at least look into that if I were you.

My guess is that Fordham probably places more students in high paying biglaw jobs than Brooklyn, but those are probably people with stellar grades and solid experience. It's entirely possible that less debt will allow you greater flexibility and be more beneficial in the long run than a higher ranked degree.   

You made the right move. For a difference of 30K the ABA degree is worth it. I'm actually surprised at how expensive the CBE schools have become. One of their major selling points was that were so much cheaper than the ABA schools, but at many you'll now spend 60K+ on a J.D. Although that's still less expensive than the ABA schools' absurd prices, it's still expensive considering the inherent limitations of the degree. They're going to price themselves out of business if they're not careful. 

Take a look at the admissions profiles on LSAC. You can find your numeric range and see how many applied to each school and how many were accepted with similar numbers. It will give you a very good idea as to your chances at a particular school.

Side question: If I retook and got a 160, do you think it's worth applying to better schools?

Well, obviously higher numbers equal broader opportunities. A score of 160 would probably give you a somewhat better shot at Loyola, but if you look at the admissions data on LSAC you'll see that the UCs would still be a longshot. It's all pure speculation at this point, however. You could just as easily retake the LSAT and get a 155.

Also, don't get too caught up in the idea of "better" schools. The minute, subtle differences in rankings that law students tend to obsess over don't play as big a role in the real world. My experience has been that most employers tend to view law schools in much broader terms. They don't really care that Loyola is ranked a few places above Pepperdine or vice versa, they view both schools as basically equal. An employer that is willing to hire from Pepperdine is probably willing to hire to hire from Loyola, too. As far as biglaw, they'd prefer Harvard and Yale anyway.

The fact is, once you get away from the elite pedigrees most law schools won't either help you or hurt you. Your ability to make positive connections and to gain relevant experience will play a larger role than the fact that you went to the #65 ranked law school, whereas your competition went to the #72 ranked school. 

If you're looking at non-elite schools I would focus more on location and $$$. For example, you mentioned USD as an option, a school with a good local reputation and a great choice if you want to live and work in San Diego. If you want to live in LA, however, I think you'd be much better off going to someplace like Pepperdine. In fact, I think you'd be better off going to Southwestern even though it's lower ranked. Why? Because although USD is a good school it's not elite, and you won't be able to rely on your pedigree to open doors. You'd have to hustle and make connections in LA, try to land an internship or summer associate position, and you'd have to do that from 100 miles away. If you simply show up after law school without local connections or experience, finding a job can be very difficult.

Just use your common sense and don't let some ridiculous rankings scheme determine one of the most important decisions in your life.

I guess the question is, what do you hope to accomplish by waiting?

I doubt if the increase in GPA will vault you into a significantly higher tier of schools. Your LSAT will presumably remain 158, unless you plan on retaking, and that probably has a bigger impact on your overall chances than your GPA.

I have heard that some schools (Boalt in particular) value GPA over LSAT. Is there a particular school you're hoping to get into? USD and Pepperdine both have decent local reputations, and with a 158 Boalt/UCLA/USC etc. are probably not in the cards.

Law School Applications / Re: Total Life Change Worth It???
« on: June 14, 2013, 07:03:24 PM »
Sorry, I misread "on the line" as "online". Anyway, focus on the LSAT like you've never focused on anything before. Invest in a good prep course if possible, and max out your score. A high LSAT score might earn you a substantial scholarship, and the cost of the prep could be dwarfed by the potential savings.

I don't live in SC and I have no personal experience with Charleston, but it's ABA accredited and thus will provide you with a solid legal education. Good luck!

Where should I go next fall? / Re: Can i get in to an ABA?
« on: June 14, 2013, 05:24:04 PM »
Is it possible to get into an ABA in California with the following stats?:

149 LSAT
3.2 all college GPA including Community College

These two numbers represent the operative portion of your stats. Grade trend and university vs. community college credits won't really matter. Law school admission is primarily a numbers game, especially at lower tier schools, and your final GPA/LSAT numbers will almost entirely determine your chances. Law schools love to talk about how they "look at the whole applicant", but the statistics seem to indicate otherwise.

Take a look at the law school profiles on LSAC's site. You can find your GPA/LSAT range and see how many applied with similar numbers to each school and how many were admitted. This will give you a very good idea as to your chances.

That said, it is possible that you might get admitted to an ABA school. You could try applying to all of the lower tier CA schools, and you may get into one or two. If you look at the LSAC profiles, however, you'll see that very few students get admitted with sub-150 scores. You might stand a slight chance at the T3-T4 schools, some of which have good local reputations and have produced many successful grads.

Your chances of admission at any of these schools, however, is slight.

Many have recommended that i re-take LSAT but i am naturally a horrible test taker.

This is a huge red flag, and you need to proceed with caution.

If you are a "naturally horrible test taker" then you need to consider that law school is loaded with very difficult exams, all of which are much tougher than the LSAT. You will also have to pass the MPRE, and the bar exam. The bar exam is the toughest test I've taken, period. Many very smart people fail. In fact, many very smart people fail more than once. If you have a tough time with tests you need to really think this over before dropping $150,000 on law school. Many people seem to think that although they have a hard time with exams, three years of law school will help them develop their skills and pass the bar. Maybe that works for some people, but it clearly does not for many.

A low LSAT score is not necessarily a bar to becoming an attorney. There are definitely examples of people who had 149 scores, passed the bar and are successful. The question is whether you can overcome whatever obstacles get in your way when it comes to taking tests. You need to make an honest, realistic, and critical assessment of your strengths and weaknesses. Do as much research as possible, and try to determine whether or not you can succeed at this endeavor.

Lastly, think about what you want to go to law school in the first place. Think about your long term goals, and whether or not this is really for you. Graduating from a non-prestigious local school, you almost certainly won't be working at a big firm making $160,000 or as a federal prosecutor. If you graduate and pass the bar you'll probably end up putting in long hours for low pay at a small firm doing unglamorous work like DUI defense or child custody modifications. After a few years of grunt work it will get better, and you'll have some options. I'm pointing this out simply because many law students (even those at top ranked schools) have very unrealistic expectations. Something to think about. 

Good luck with whatever you decide!

Law School Applications / Re: Total Life Change Worth It???
« on: June 14, 2013, 02:13:06 PM »
The answer depends on your personal attributes and your academic abilities. If you are very dedicated, very disciplined, smart, and willing to sacrifice most or all of your spare time for the next four years then yes, you can probably do it.

I went to law school at a part time evening program while juggling a family, a mortgage, and other responsibilities. It is a grueling process, period. Law school is far more demanding than undergrad, the two are not even remotely comparable. You will be expected to read hundreds of pages of dense, often boring material every week and to be able to utilize what you've learned in a unique way. The amount of preparation that would have landed you an "A" in undergrad will get you a C- in law school.

More than anything else you have to be absolutely committed to becoming a lawyer, you have to want it badly. I was very committed and had a very supportive spouse (also a lawyer), and it was still a grind. There were many times when I felt like packing it in. Law school significantly reduced the amount of time I had with my family, and wore me out mentally. I think that the idea of "part time" law school is a misnomer, because you are actually forced to adopt a seven-day work week. When you're not in class or at your job you will be studying, briefing, or researching.

You need to ask yourself if you want to be a lawyer badly enough to give up time with your son, and to forego any real down time for the next four years.

If you go to an online school you'll have to set aside additional time to prepare for the FYLSE ("baby bar"), as well as the MPRE (all law students). After law school, of course, you'll need to set aside two or three months to prepare for the bar exam. It would be very difficult to work and prepare for the bar simultaneously. Bar prep is a fulltime job.

Now for the good news. If you successful in this endeavor you get to be a lawyer, and there can be a great deal of personal and professional satisfaction in that. This might sound corny, but when people find out you're a lawyer they often treat you with respect, listen more closely to your opinions, and are deferential. It's kind of a nice little ego boost that helps those fatigue-ridden years seem worthwhile.   

Lastly, you mentioned online school. I assume you know that there are significant restrictions imposed on online grads. I don't know where you are located, but the vast majority of states will not let you sit for the bar. Additionally, you'll be on your own as far as finding internships and jobs, and many employers will be wary of your degree. If there is any way you can attend an ABA or CBE accredited school, seriously consider that option.

Hope this helped, and I wish you the best of luck!

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